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This talk will explore how the First World War impacted on voluntary and charitable work within English Association Football. Prior to the war, English football, both professional and grassroots, relied upon voluntary action from officials, administrators, and players in various forms. The game also supported charitable efforts related to the game and wider society. The nature, scale, and scope of these activities would be changed, and in some cases, transformed by the war. English football made its own distinct contribution to the voluntary and charitable efforts that were such a hallmark of Home Fronts across combatant nations. It supported the idea of voluntary enlistment and championed a range of military and civilian charities. 

The war also offered visions of how the game might change. Ideas about the game’s commercialism were challenged, while popular grassroots women’s football emerged for the first time.

Making use of a range of archival and printed sources, this talk aims to show the relevance and importance of football to histories of volunteering, charity, and the English Home Front.

Dr Alexander Jackson has been a curator at the National Football Museum since 2011. In 2014 he was lead curator for the exhibition The Greater Game: Football and the First World War. This led to further research on the topic culminating in Football’s Great War: Association Football on the English Home Front, 1914-1918 (Pen & Sword) in 2022. In 2023 he was one of five winners selected by The National Archives and the British Society of Local History in their 20sStreets competition for his research on Fleetwood Ladies FC. 

All welcome- this session is free to attend, but booking in advance is required.